In the last blog post, I promised that we will be partying in Busan like a local. Well—that didn’t quite happen. We DID, however, eat lots of amazing food —our budgets have been thrown out the window long time ago. We haven’t cooked in Korea at all in the past 2.5 weeks. The food has been soo good—too good to pass up.
We spent two nights in Busan and did all the necessary touristy stuff— Busan is very pleasant- people are extremely friendly. The city itself is not as big as Seoul so it’s way easier to navigate and feel like we’ve seen most parts of town/ the cool neighborhoods.
This place is huge! Endless rows and rows of these– mini aquariums filled with abalones, oysters, clams, HUGE mussels (like 8 inches long!), sea cucumbers, etc etc. I was trying to be stealthy here, so the pictures is a bit blurry- but it was wonderful, super clean, did not smell fishy and rather colorful! It was just sad to see the amount of seafood available- Brady and I wondered- how can there be still fish in the sea?
Stumbled across this brand new brewery in Busan- opened 3 months ago. The Korean government just changed a few brewing policies a couple years back, so there is now a mini explosion of (real) beer brewing companies. Here’s Brady looking very pleased with his IPA.
We only had limited amount of time in Korea, plus, the 4 last days of our time in Korea was holidays for Korean. It’s known as the Chuseok- the mid-autumn holidays likened to Thanksgiving in the US. People flock back to their hometown, ate a lot of festive food and businesses close down. Which is why we figured we should head on back to Seoul earlier rather than risking starving and without a place to sleep (unlikely to happen, but still…) during the Chuseok time.
So we took the bus from Busan to Uljin (2/3rds the way back up the East Coast), and biked from there along the East Coast to Sokcho, then West through the DMZ area back to Seoul. The East Coast portion from Uljin to Sokcho had new bike paths, opened in May 2015. Then heading West towards Seoul through the DMZ did not have assigned bike path, but the government plans to open one in 2019.
East Coast area is more commercialized- I think they get a lot of tourist traffic in the summer (vacation for kids). It was completely empty while we were there (mid September). The weather was great, not too hot, not too humid- just perfect. There are endless stalls like the one pictured above selling dried fish and live sea food.
More fish drying on the beach. The Koreans used every usable public space for drying of their food, nuts, red pepper, and fish, more fish! They also used lights (huge light bulbs strung in water) to attract the cuttlefish at night.
Endless seafood stalls. The bike paths on the East Coast is not as nice as the one from Seoul-Busan. I think it’s because the bike paths from Seoul-Busan goes along the river, for which the government (or Korea Water) already has the right of way. It’s more difficult to add a few bike lanes on existing city streets along the receding coast.
This is what’s nuts– so many portions of the coast was lined with fences and barb wires (as pictured). We also saw so many guard posts with soldiers looking yonder to the open sea for signs of submarines. I guess they had a North Korean submarine discovered on the East Coast a few decades ago. There were posters everywhere to remind people to notice the signs of submarine and an app to alert the South Korean police/ army should there be a sighting.
After Sokcho, we made our way West, leaving the coast, going slightly uphill and close to DMZ line.
Staying at small towns is the best. We found a bunch of restaurants selling the specialty of this North Eastern Area– DakGalbi- Chicken marinated in red pepper sauce, cooked on a pan with cabbages, green onion and lettuce. My favorite!
Brady has never had these Korean grapes before. He declared that now he understands why the Hi-Chew grape flavor tastes the way they do. These grapes taste exactly the same as the candy (or the other way round, I guess)
I started biking like a bike ninja– face almost completely covered. My face was getting a bit rashy so I wanted to stop the sunscreen for a bit. Plus its normal to bike like this (for both men and women) here in Korea.
We also managed to join a short tour of the DMZ where we went to the observatory post and peered over the DMZ line into North Korea. Not allowed to take pictures there.
Here’s some pictures from our 3 days in Seoul:
From the top of Namsan hike!
Off to JAPAN!